Hernan Photography Studios http://www.hernanphotography.com Fri, 13 Nov 2015 00:12:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.10 GOING REMOTE WITH POCKET WIZARDhttp://www.hernanphotography.com/going-remote-with-pocket-wizard/ http://www.hernanphotography.com/going-remote-with-pocket-wizard/#comments Wed, 04 Nov 2015 23:51:07 +0000 http://www.hernanphotography.com/?p=3101 “I was recently asked in a workshop on the importance of using a remote camera trigger system, and the value it adds to my work. It’s something that I never thought twice about, but now that I think about it, I can’t imagine shooting without my Pocket Wizards. It is one of the first investment you must make if you would like to become and efficient studio photographer”. 





A great volume of my work is in celebrity and publicity portraiture. There are many benefits I can’t imagine shooting without. The first I would never take for granted is the clean shooting conditions the Pocket Wizards create in the studio, streamlining my multiple setups, free of wires and cables, and easily accessing every set, by the simple change of a channel. In working with a celebrity, efficiency is of the highest priority. Many times I’m on location at a celebrity’s home, and the extensive amount of equipment I sometimes show up with, can be very alarming to my client. So my solution is to start simply with one power pack, two lights, and a set of remote trigger Pocket Wizards. This makes all the difference in the world. Sometimes this is all I use for the entire session. My most recent publicity session was an editorial photo shoot for my client Ryoko which was to be used for her upcoming book cover. The day consisted of shooting in her 5,000 square foot penthouse, in multiple rooms. This including shooting outdoors on her 30th floor balcony. With my Pocket Wizard wireless trigger system, I was able to pre-assign specific channels for each location, after pre-lighting and custom white-balancing each individual setup. This is very beneficial when working on commercial shoots, fashion, weddings or when efficiency is of the upmost importance.





As I specialize in studio flash portraiture, both indoors and portable power flash outdoors, lighting is the key element in creating thought provoking portraits. I am able to guide the viewer with the precise placement of lights to convey my story. My Pocket Wizards allow me to strategically fire as many packs as required in the creation of my cinematic style of portraiture. This is invaluable when working with multiple setups for any particular client. When shooting Fashion portraits outdoors, I am also able to setup two portable flash units remotely, setting my lighting on Manual, and firing with my Pocket Wizard Transceiver.





My client Ryoko, had so many amazing images to choose from for PR. and editorial purposes. The image cover for her book was a beautiful shot of her gazing into the distance. 





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One of the biggest challenges I encounter is working with elaborate setups and commercial photo shoots, along with the detailed planning of multiple lighting setups. I have been known to work with as many as 16 lights and seven power packs. Keeping track of the role of each individual light is not an easy task. My Pocket Wizards allow me to group my lights with specific channels, test and trigger if needed remotely from my camera, and create both a cohesive and aesthetic scheme for the entire day. With the assistance of my Pocket Wizards, I am also able to get through the day with less physical assistants.








This is one of my favorite shots of Ryoko. As she is an author in a modern era, the mixture of using the organic setting in her personal space, with the use of a laptop was a great contrast. Her natural expression and her inner peace is also infectious in this image. 




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DYNALITE BAJA – ONE LIGHT WONDER AT TAMRON’S FULL-THROTTLE WORKSHOPhttp://www.hernanphotography.com/the-baja-one-light-wonder-at-tamrons-full-throttle-workshop/ http://www.hernanphotography.com/the-baja-one-light-wonder-at-tamrons-full-throttle-workshop/#comments Sun, 01 Nov 2015 16:45:28 +0000 http://www.hernanphotography.com/?p=3056  

As a Dynalite VIP Photographer, Tamron Image Master, and Westcott Top Pro Elite, I have the privilege of using some of the best equipment in the industry for creating compelling images. This includes the new Baja 6. I usually shoot with elaborate lighting setups, using sometimes as many as 16 lights for some of my celebrity and commercial work. I rarely will get to enjoy the simple aspects of lighting, and when I do, I embrace the opportunity whole heartedly. Here is what Wikipedia says about “Simple” – (Not hard to understand or do: having a few parts: free of secondary complications). This all is synonymous with the new Baja portable flash unit by Dynalite. It really is a “One Light Wonder”. I can describe all the technical aspects of this incredible light, but that is what their website is for – www.dynalite.com. What I would rather share with you is my personal experience. How a simple light has simplified my work, producing images which can be perceived to be complicated lighting scenarios.
Now as a photographer, in which many aspects of my profession can be very complicated, why wouldn’t I choose the simple route? With my knowledge and technical skills in photography, it is easy to empliment many lighting approaches, but before being able to use many lights, I was once able to use just one. Don’t get me wrong. I love elaborate lighting schematics, and I will continue to use them, but for this time, I decided to use just one light. It’s a great exercise in expanding your vision, and honing your skills as a photographer.

The Baja 6 is a powerful battery operated, wireless controlled flash unit, which delivers reliable and predictable light. This is very important for me as I usually use this for my celebrity work on location, which most often I am under the confines of time, space and equipment allowed for the sessions. What many photographers might find helpful is the “ease of use” of the Baja. You really just need minutes to familiarize yourself with the big LED screen and all its available functions. You simple power-up or power-down in 1/10th increments with the power dial. What I find very useful is the ability to do this from your camera with the wireless trigger functions. I also have the option of using the Hi-Sync function in the Baja, which allows me to shoot up to 2,000th per second with flash.

This past summer I conducted a “Full Throttle” workshop with Tamron Lenses in a motorcycle shop. It was a lighting workshop for photographers and for motorcycle enthusiast. This was a great opportunity in using the Baja for our outdoor portraits. As we were shooting in bright California sun, it produced very hard shadows on our subjects with too much contrast. I placed a small Octobox on the Baja, which helped me create a directional light pattern with similar specularity quality as the sun. The important thing when using flash outdoors is to first determine the role of the flash. Will you be using the flash as your main light source, or will you be using it as a fill light? Most often photographers will just place their lights without much thought of what mother nature has created there in front of them. They will power up the flash where it shows the obvious displays of artificial lighting on a well illuminated day. Not too good for creating “natural” portraits. There are a few variables that you must equate in creating a mixed lighting portrait. You have the shutter speed that controls your ambient and exposure, and you have the aperture that controls just the exposure. You can increase your shutter speed which minimizes the ambient light, but if you lower it enough, it also will affect the exposure. The aperture will regulate the amount of light you are receiving from your flash unit. Most often you will need to start with your maximum shutter speed sync which may vary between 200th – 250th of a second, then you illuminate the face. It sounds simple enough right? Well this is the balance you are trying to create in a nutshell. These three variables will create the mood and the final exposure balance for your portrait. Let me describe a few of the portraits taken in a mixed light scenario.

For the first setup I decided to place my subject on his Harley Davidson in front of an aluminum car garage. The rugged background texture complimented my subject’s personality. I also chose to place my subject where the sun was behind my him which partially lit his left shoulder and served as a hair light as well. My incident meter reading for the light on my subject was 1/200th of a second at F/11. This was my final exposure for the final shot as well. Without any lighting, my subject was in shadow, as he was back lit.


EXPOSURE: 1/200TH OF SECOND @ F/11 – ISO 125. TAMRON SP 70-200 F/2.8


I simply placed the Baja from the same direction as the sun but brought the arc of light towards the front to illuminate his face. Many photographers will place the light on the opposite direction of the sun, thinking they have to fill the shadows. By placing the light as the same direction as the sun, it keeps a more natural look as if the light is coming from one direction. I powered up and metered to read F/8 which was one stop less than the sun. This allowed the sun to overexpose one stop for accent and rim lighting. A very simple one light approach with natural results. I varied between using my Tamron 24-70mm and my 70-200mm. This gave me the option of creating personal intimate shots as well as a more open composition by incorporating more of the background. I also placed a cyan color filter for added warmth. I will explain this in an upcoming blog post.






For our next subject, I mixed it up a little to demonstrate the versatility you have when shooting on location with the Baja. You can create a completely different look within minutes of previous sets, by simply scanning the location, choosing a complimentary background for your subject, and balancing your flash with the sun. I decided to move my subject 30 feet to the left from our previous location, and I had my subject turn 45 degrees counterclockwise to face the sun. I also decided to keep the shades to add that “cool” factor, and also prevented squinty eyes. The ambient exposure was the same as our previous shot. We already determined that 1/200 of a second at F/11 would give us an accurate exposure. Instead of using the flash as our main source as the previous shot (Keeping in mind there was no illumination on subject’s face) I decided to use the sun as my main light source. I simply kept the same distance as the previous shot for a meter reading of F/8 from the Baja. This now was my fill light – 1 Stop less than my key light for a balanced 2:1 lighting ratio. I also used the Tamron SP 17-30mm wide angle lens to accentuate my perspective for added drama and impact. When using a wide angle lens for portraits, make certain your subject is placed center on you composition, so there isn’t any distortion on the subject.




Proper placement of the light is very important when photographing vehicles or motorcycles. They essentially are mirrors, picking up every reflection in its arc of view. You need to consider the principle of “Angle of incidence is angle of reflection”. The angle you place your light, will reflect the same angle towards your lens. I placed the Baja from the same direction the sun was striking my subject. I also feathered the light to brush across and in front of my subject which prevented any hot spots on the chrome of the Harley. This angle of incidence never reflected back towards my lens. I also was able to fine tune the flash output from the Baja directly from my camera, as the sun was moving in and out of the clouds. This is a great feature on this portable flash unit. The Baja is compact and easy to use, so adjustments can be made on the fly.






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GO SOCIAL AND CARRY – ONhttp://www.hernanphotography.com/go-social-and-carry-on/ http://www.hernanphotography.com/go-social-and-carry-on/#comments Mon, 22 Jun 2015 10:48:53 +0000 http://www.hernanphotography.com/?p=2878 Studio photographers, for the most part, are accustomed to working under the confines of a controlled environment, which usually is their personal studio or a specific designated location. Most lighting equipment, modifiers, and camera accessories are just a grasp away. In my personal case, working as a commercial and celebrity portraitist, I will photograph seventy percent in my studio and thirty percent on location. My location studio sessions will normally consist of shooting at the celebrity’s personal home. I also travel often to teach workshops at some of the big industry conferences, as well as Colombia and Mexico.

The times I do leave my studio, I find it challenging in ascertaining a full-proof system that will assure I have every single item I need in place. This is when I started to really consider looking for a carry-on case that would help keep my important components for shooting in place. Being in this industry for a moment allows you to work with many of the top manufacturers in the world. I’ve tried several carrying cases, and, for the most part, each bag had maybe one or two good features but fell short as a whole. Keep in mind though, that the needs of a landscape photographer might be completely different than mind. I’m speaking from the platform of a portrait studio photographer.


In short, after much research I decided to look into the Manfrotto Professional Bag Collection. I first came across them in New York, while teaching a Master Class at the Photo Plus Expo. I had to travel there from Los Angeles, and I was very concerned on how my expensive gear would hold up in the bag I currently possessed. The construction was just okay, but the compartments were poorly constructed. I looked and reviewed the highlight features from each bag, and though I could have used each one for a specific need, as an overall bag, which would be specific to my needs, I decided to order the Roller Bag 90. We are talking about My Life In a Bag!


Before we get into the specifics of my “Social” assignment and my gear bag, I want to take a step back and share with you some personal thoughts.

My journey to becoming a professional photographer reminds me a lot of my past journey in becoming a professional cyclist. When I first started racing at the age of 13, and competing as a rookie, there was so much room for growth through just training, and simply just “putting in the time”. There is much value in the old adage, “practice makes perfect. Now as I climbed the ranks as a cyclist, the competition got tougher. Any little edge was constantly sought to give you any type of advantage.


Now photography behaves in a very similar fashion. When you first start as an avid photographer, you simply just “put in the time” to get better. When you get to your third year of shooting, you are simply just better than your first year and so on. As you become a series amateur, you might consider schooling, online training videos, books, mentoring programs and many more options. Professionals must always remember where their  roots began, and never be idle or complacent in their development as photographers. Our industry is always evolving, and so should our style along with your skills.

Longevity in any career makes you better, but the closer you get to the top, the slower the gains. Any little-added antidote will begin to separate you from the pack marginally. As trivial as a Roller Bag 90 may seem for a seasoned professional, for the simple fact of allowing me to have all my professional gear at hand, it will definitely elevate my game, even if it’s for a marginal gain. In this “Case” though, the dividends are high, and in this particular social outing, it really did pay off.

I work with several agencies and entertainment managers. Most of the work I produce for the “talent” of these agencies are for publicity and advertising purposes. Athletes, musicians, actors, and entertainers. The images are then used for web magazines, PR, posters, and billboards.


This specific social assignment was for Lynne H, CEO at VITY Network which included covering the inaugural VITY Concert Experience, as well as the location portraits. I specialize in portraits, so photographing social events, concerts and anything of this nature is something I rarely do. I do it as a service for the benefit of the overall relationship between certain clients. This is my fourth event and second concert throughout my whole career. I really do appreciate the photographers who specialize in this though. It is so stressful, with very little control. I thought photographing Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield was stressful until I photographed a wedding. Oh no – Thank You!




Here is where the fun begins. I chose this bag for many reasons, but what worked the best for me was the solid padding and precise compartments to hold my lenses and camera bodies securely in place.
Packing my bags for this event, I found to be slightly different than packing for a location shoot. This was much more specific to extra supplemental portable lighting. This was the breakdown:
BODIES: 1 Canon 1DX, 1 Nikon D800;

LENSES: All my lenses are Tamron – (70-200VC F/2.8), (24-70 SP F/2.8), (90mm F/2.8 macro), (SP 15-30 F/2.8 VS Wide)

2 Portable Canon Speedlites 580EX
2 Portable Nikon SB – 700 Speedlites
4 Pocket Wizards Plus III
10 SanDisk – 50 Gigs total
DataColor Spyder CHECK White Balance Gray Card
Rosco Opal Diffusion for flash units
IPad Mini
Sync Cords, Rubber Bands, 24 AA Batteries, Business Cards


I use both Canon and Nikon. They both are good for different reasons. I like the low light capacity and the Low –Noise results I get from the Nikon, and I prefer the Canon on for my portraits. They both excel.


Social involvement makes you better. Getting outside the studio, expanding your skills outside of your comfort zone, and simply packing your bags will push any portrait photographer to push his/her boundaries and helps add another dimension to your work.


In the end, it really comes down to our personal style and vision. We all see things in a specific dimension and perspective. This includes style, composition, camera angle choices, which in turn expresses our own narrative to anything we shoot. I have my personal style for my studio work, and now that I had a chance to shoot some notable Hip-Hop artists’, I added my signature style to this body of work.

In mindset, when all was said and done, including ordering my bag, finding placement for my gear and using it on location I now had a reference point of judgment. Days later, while having my cup of coffee in my studio, I was able to revisit my experience. Manfrotto’s Slogan really resonated in my mind. Imagine More. The bag for as simple as it may have seemed, took me out of my comfort zone with such a pleasant and secure ease. My equipment was one last thing I had to think about, which allowed me to expand creatively for the task. It really did allow me to Imagine More.



I can’t wait to share with you my next assignment.

by Hernan Rodriguez for www.manfrottobags.com

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MODIFIED BEAUTY: WESTCOTT EYELIGHTERhttp://www.hernanphotography.com/westcott-eyelighter/ http://www.hernanphotography.com/westcott-eyelighter/#comments Mon, 10 Nov 2014 09:16:27 +0000 http://demo.qodeinteractive.com/stardust/?p=35 I

n beauty campaigns, the subject  is reduced to her most purest and necessary elements. I say “her” for the simple reason that men and beauty would entail a different approach to lighting, which will make a future blog post. Minimalist photography styles have been the common denominator for showcasing the female features, whether for a cosmetic line, perfume campaign, or even modern day celebrity images. The face (skin) rules, and the eyes of course, are the most important element in the portrait.




Let me start by saying that it doesn’t hurt when your subjects are a former Victoria Secret Model as well as a Loreal Cover Girl, and a beautiful Miss Great Britain. This is not a guarantee though in creating great images. Far too often I see beautiful women in the cover of magazines, with very poor lighting. The job was commissioned for advertising Celebrity Makeup artist’s Marc Harvey, and his line of makeup airbrush paint. The objective was to showcase the shading and texture created by the airbrush paint, while also showing the bright luminance it creates on the face.







There are endless approaches in creating beauty lighting. The most common which has been used throughout the ages, we can refer to as “Simple Beauty Lighting”. Here you can set a large soft box horizontally, and directly behind your camera. It should be aimed down at the subject’s face. I personally like to use a Westcott 47″ Zeppelin Parabolic, for its wrap-around qualities, as well as the scrim and diffuser options available.

Simple Beauty Lighting offers a few options that may be useful to some photographers. Firstly, it’s very simple to setup. It is very forgiving in regards to the quality of light it produces. Very soft, with open shadows.

For fill light you have the choice of using various options. You can use a white fill card, or a silver reflector under the model’s chin, and by simply moving it closer or further, you are able to fill the shadows to taste. This also helps decrease the ratio, which essentially is the contrast of the image. Another option which I often use, is placing a narrow strip box under my camera access, and powering up to meter 1/2 stop less than my main light. This secures even illumination and also adds sparkle to the eyes.



This modified approach weighs on the same principle as the previous. The quality of light is similar and the contrast is kept to a minimal. The variation in this setup is to add two extra lights from the same direction as the key light.  I begin by placing my key light which is a 28″ Dynalite Beauty Dish directly centered four feet above my subject. The beauty dish is modified with a honeycomb grid to create a harder edge, but is diffused with Rosco Opal, to bring the contrast down to a minimal. This modifier normally produces a hard quality of light, but with the diffuser and the extra fill, we can control the contrast.  I was very specific in my choice of modifiers for fill. I used two 32″ Optical White satin Westcott umbrellas slightly behind me, set on either side. Using white satin umbrellas in a reflective fashion (bouncing light into umbrella and back to subject), allows some light to spill through, loosing some of the intensity, while bouncing back non-directional light. I also pulled the umbrellas the farthest away from the light, allowing an even spread of light.



These fill lights I measured individually to F5.6. Both lights combined metered slightly less than F8. I then set my beauty dish for an output of F16. This is a 4:1 lighting ratio which normally is too high in contrast for beauty lighting.



This is where the WESTCOTT Eyelighter comes into place. The Eyelighter is a unique silver reflective pan in the shape of an arc. This reflector you can place below your subject which serves two purposes. One is to control the amount of fill under the eyes and chin, which brings a beautiful unmatched glow to the skin. This also helps control the amount of fill you desire by combining it with your other lights. Secondly, by fine tuning the angle of reflection, you can increase the eye color and brightness that is reflected from the eyes. It bring incredible brilliance to the eyes adding extra depth. It works quite different than most standard reflectors or fill cards. The unique shape also follows the contour of the natural shape of the face. It also was designed with the facial anatomical structure in mind. Once placed at a proper distance beneath my subject, I am then able to decrease my lighting ratio from ½ – 1 stop difference from my key light and my combined (modified) combined fill.




With practice, this Modified Beauty setup is very consistent and predictable. The results are amazing without breaking the bank. By varying the distance and the angle of the Eyelighter, you can immediately predict your results by simply looking at the specular reflection of the Eyelighter on your subject’s eyes. Practice modifying your lighting, experiment on angle of incidence of light, to the angle of reflection, and using the Eyelighter might just be that extra trick that will separate your work from the pack! H

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Color Harmony in Photographyhttp://www.hernanphotography.com/color-harmony-in-photography/ http://www.hernanphotography.com/color-harmony-in-photography/#comments Wed, 24 Sep 2014 15:44:33 +0000 http://www.hernanphotography.com/?p=2684 Throughout the centuries, both scientists and artists have studied and designed a multitude of variations to express color. Sir Isaac Newton developed the first color wheel in 1666 to express his theory of color, which is vastly used in present day time. The primary objective we as artists and photographers seek in the gamut of color is harmony. We strive for a pleasing arrangement of all individual parts and a sense of “well balance” in any particular scene. This also conveys a sense of order—whether we choose to express energy or calm—by our color selections.

An understanding of some of these color principles can enhance your photography and give you many more options.


We can start by breaking down the color wheel into three parts: Primary Colors, Secondary Colors, and Tertiary Colors. Understanding how these colors interact can help you create images with impact.

Primary Colors
red, yellow, and blue

The primary colors are red, yellow and blue. These are absolute. In traditional art, all colors are derived from these three colors. These colors can’t be mixed or formed by any other combination. They are the roots of all colors.

Secondary Colors
green, orange and purple

These colors are formed by mixing the primary colors. Blue and yellow=green, red and yellow=orange, red and blue=purple.

Tertiary Colors
yellow-orange, red-orange, red-purple, blue-green and yellow-green

These colors are formed by mixing a primary color with a secondary color.

Color Harmonies

These are the basic techniques in color, which can be applied to any form of photography.


Colors that are opposite of each other in the color wheel.

An example is red and green. These colors are high in contrast and are usually used in creating a vibrant look. In the context of photography, an example of this can be seen in the image I created of the girl set in front of a bouquet of red roses with bold green leaves. The red also compliments her bright green eyes.

This color theory as well was used consistently throughout the pictures of the children with lollipops. It helped create vibrant and energetic images, adding to the children’s expressions


Any three colors that are next to each other on a 12 part color wheel.
These colors usually are found in nature and are pleasing to the eye. For instance, yellow, yellow-green, and green. In this selection, one color dominates, a second supports, and the third is accent. An example of this can be seen in the image of the girl with the green dress on a green vintage backdrop. Yellow-green dominates the image, green compliments, while cyan accents the scene. Green is also a great choice on backgrounds when photographing people. It accents the warm red tones of the skin.

Here is a glimpse behind the scenes of this particular shoot.

Another example of analogous colors in a scene is the image of the girl in front of a street scene. The three colors are well balanced with tones of red-orange, orange, and yellow-orange. The floor and background are shades of these colors, creating a harmonious, monochromatic color scheme.


Three colors evenly spaced in a color wheel, basically creating a triangle.

This color scheme also evokes energy, but must be well balanced to be effective. One color should dominate while the other two compliment. Examples of these color combinations are; orange, purple and green, or cyan, magenta, and yellow-orange.

There are so many preconceived notions or ideologies when it comes to the acceptance of a specific color palette for any given situation or scenario. The color harmonies of spring usually are pastels, from soft pinks to lilacs, where as “fall colors” might be in the dark crimson, hunter greens, or even black.

Color is such a key factor in photography, but quite often overlooked or not given the attention it deserves. The selections of any given color palette in a scene can be used to covey any particular emotion to the viewer. It can be used also to control the scene to a given extent and has physiological effects on the brain pattern.

Let’s take, for example, a historic image of two of the greatest rival champions in the world of boxing: Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson. The world remembers them for the ear-biting incident. Now how would one—as a photographer—covey a mood in relation to color? This is one of the examples that we will be discussing in my Color Harmony Master Class at WPPI and the reasoning behind choices made to express a mood. Traditional portraiture would call for backgrounds to be less distracting. I chose to incorporate it as part of the energy in the portrait. The principle of complementary colors dominate the scene as well.

One of my all-time favorite pictures is the image I took of a sweet Spanish actress, Itasha, which was later nominated for the Photography Master Cup. What’s the reasoning behind this image? First, it starts with an honest expression, as cliché as it sounds. The first impression I perceived from my subject, Itasha, was her similarity to a young Audrey Hepburn. If you see an iconic image taken of Audrey in the ‘60s, which was the origin of my inspiration, one can identify the similarities in their skin, hair and very contagious smile. I based my whole shoot to convey these similarities in the portrait. If I mention the word “Tiffany” or “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and I ask you to name a color, you might say, “Oh yes, that tiffany blue.” Putting these elements together and choosing the proper color harmony subconsciously hinted at the message. Choosing a different background color would have relayed a completely different message. That background used was from the Modern Vintage collection by Westcott. I quite often use these for my portrait and celebrity work because of the wide variety of color selections, and less distracting patterns.

Color for Photographers: The RGB Color System

The previous color system explained for artists is completely different than the RGB color system. This is an Additive Color system in which light is emitted from a source before an object reflects the light. The additive process mixes different amounts of red, green and blue light to produce a full range of colors. It is used in television, computer monitors, printers, and digital cameras. This system is based on science. To summarize this color system, here are some important facts to keep in mind. The visible color, or light spectrum, is based on a very narrow electromagnetic frequency that falls between radio frequency on the far left, and gamma on the far right. Visible light, or what is referred to “Visible Light Spectrum,” can be seen between infrared energy and ultraviolet energy. Each color is characteristic of a distinct wavelength which includes (R )ed, (G)reen, and (B)lue. These are the additive primary colors. Respectively, red wavelengths of light are shorter than the blue wavelengths. An artist will mix two primary colors to create a third color. In additive color, mixing various amounts of red, green and blue light will reproduce secondary colors cyan, magenta, and yellow. Combining all three primary colors produces white. As confusing as this may sound to many, simply put, changes made to (R )ed affects the opposite color which is Cyan, (G)reen affects Magenta, and (B)lue affects Yellow. Understanding this simple principle will help you manipulate color to your specific needs in photography.

Promoting Color with Rosco Color Filters

I have to start by saying that I’m a huge advocate of Photoshop, but when it comes to adding color to an image, I’m also a stickler on getting it done in capture. Many photographers do not use color filters for the simple reason of not testing and trying the concept. There is something organic that Photoshop can’t replicate in comparison to simply adding color filters to your lights. For the past three years, I’ve been working with Joel Svendsen from Rosco as an advisor to lighting concepts using color filters. I often use a line of filters called CalColor which is a system of primary and secondary colors that are calibrated to be pure for the camera. Each color is available in different densities or gradient steps for additive and subtractive color mixing. This same system is in relation to what you would normally use in Photoshop when manipulating RGB. Adding a CalColor #4490 Green, for example, enhances green transmission by reducing blue and red. To use this as an effect, I customize my white balance by shooting a white card lit in the CalColor 90 Green and upload the image to neutralize my skin tones. In doing so, my digital camera will offset the green by adding the opposite, complementary color, which is magenta. I’ll then light my subject with the same green, which will reproduce accurate skin tones while colorizing my background with magenta. It also can be done in reverse fashion if you would like to enhance the greens of a background, for instance foliage, grass, and trees, you can add magenta to light your subject, custom white balance a white card, and the camera sensor will in turn, add the green. This technique was used for the example image of Eddie Griffin. For more information on Rosco CalColor, click here.

Another great product I use is a line of Rosco color filters called GAM Naked Cosmetics™. I use these filters for most of my beauty lighting setups, or when skin tones are involved. Naked Cosmetics™ are designed to add warmth and modify skin tones. These subtle colors add natural beauty to your portraits without affecting the color of the entire scene. They can be used to blend and enhance skin tones while masking undesirable undertones. I used these filters on a recent commercial photo shoot for a beauty cosmetic line. You can see the hints of warm highlights throughout the skin tones on the sample image of the four girls. All lights were gelled with the sum of 6K watts. For more information on Rosco’s line of GAM Naked Cosmetics™, click here.

Perfecting Color and Contrast in Your Images with Datacolor™

Lastly, but of the upmost importance, is color balance (white balance), exposure, and contrast control. Most often we might proceed with all the details of our shoot including lighting, location, models and props, but we often will just wing our color balance. I’ve been caught many times on location with a mix of different types of lights from overhead incandescent lights mixed with flash. I heavily rely on a simple color and exposure calibration system offered by Datacolor. This system will save you endless hours in post-production, by simply white balancing to the white and black target SpyderCUBE and the color SpyderCHECKR taken in a shot at the onset of your portrait session. The SpyderCUBE helps you to set the white balance, exposure and black level when editing pictures. The SpyderCHECKR will provide color correction for camera. It can be used to set the correct color temperature for your session.

For my commercial and celebrity sessions, I might be working with 2-3k images per session. Imagine the length of time required to process these images. With the Datacolor process, I can get them all done from the one target shot.
For more information on Datacolor, click here.

This is a general outline of what will be covered in my Color Harmony Master Class at this year’s WPPI Convention.

Some of these techniques as well as some of my personal lighting and portrait techniques are also covered in my book, 75 Portraits by Hernan Rodriguez available through Amherst Media or amazon.com.

This article originally appeared in Photo.net:

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That Is So Shallow!http://www.hernanphotography.com/that-is-so-shallow/ http://www.hernanphotography.com/that-is-so-shallow/#comments Wed, 24 Sep 2014 14:03:14 +0000 http://www.hernanphotography.com/?p=2677 Many times we are caught up on the extreme. High defenition, (HDR), mega-pixels, and technology. We sometimes consider the success of an image is by its razor sharp quality. Sometimes this is can be characterized as a “style”.

Photography styles are many times determined by social influences such as music, fashion, technology and many other trends.Thus as photographers, we begin to emulate such styles. I personally believe though that the true honest characteristics of the “Classic” , whether art or photography will always transcend time. This is why images from some of the greats such as Richard Avedon, Herb Ritts and Irving Penn are still relevant today, even after many decades. I speak of an era when mega-pixels were not even part of the equation. The true soul of the subject was the essence of their images whether it was a portrait or a fashion editorial shot. Sometimes the call of the day is a shallow image.

By this I am referring to the depth of field. Early on in my career, most of my work was shooting commercial head shots. The only thing the agents wanted to see on an 8×10 print were emotion and expression. . Everything else in the image was just to hint at something. Clothing, color and background were added just to add or subdue a particular mood. This particular style of shooting can also characterize a photographer. I begin with the eyes
and decided how much of the subject I want to convey to my viewer.

Matt Barnes

When shooting shallow, I find myself assuming most often three different approaches. Firstly, if I am shooting outdoors under direct sunlight, I will use large scrims and diffusers to cut the light.  This approach allows me to shoot any time of the day as some clients don’t care about the perfect light we sometimes seek. It’s essentially creating a studio outdoors. As the conditions in this scenerio are quite bright, background selection is as important as the subject. I usually seek for a background that is subdued with some brighter spots that can be used to separate my subject and add interest. This also creates a well balanced portrait.

I also use my Tamron VC 70-200mm to compress my background. In short, I let my lens do the work. It pulls all the planes of focus forward at the same plane as my subject, bringing the background out of focus pushing the focus onto my subject. Compression. I also will often use almost the maximum zoom of 200mm and maybe less. I find pulling the lens barrow slightly back at 180mm, will not push my lens elements to the max. I also place a silver or white reflector under the subject to add sparkle to the eyes.

In this scenerio I will shoot wide open at F2.8 or F4. I find shooting at F2.8 keeps only the eyes on focus with everything else falling off. Using this approach is a bit more critical as any slight movement from the subject will throw one eye out of focus. I try to keep my subject facing me directly to keep both eyes on the same plane. I might also use center focus on my setting and focus in the spot above the nose and center between both eyes. I also will shoot at burst mode as there will be a few misses on focus. If i shoot my subject 3/4 view, I will push back to F4 to keep both eyes focused.


My second approach which is also outdoors will be in open shade, and not just any open shade. Light has direction and quality, and can vary depending on the placement of your subject. I usually place my subject where the sun is blocked by the edge of a rooftop, trees, or any overhang. This spot is usually the brightest spot in the open shade scene and will have a direct quality of light that can be used to illuminate your subject which also is a soft quality. I then use a white board or reflector under my subject to open the shadows a bit and add brightness to the eyes. This is also important if the floor is of dark nature. I am usually shooting in the ballpark of 1/60th of a second at f4 in this type of scenario.

The Vibration Compensation of my Tamron 70-200 will allow me to go tripod free at slow shutter speeds. I have recorded hand held at 1/30 of a second with amazing sharpness. I might also start my session using an ISO of 200 to allow me some range if I need to use slow speeds.

This exact approach I used for a cover of Scott Kelby’s Photoshop User Magazine.

Note: Since I quite often shoot many strobes on a subject, I find shooting these two approaches will allow more freedom to interact with my subject, which at the end of the day is the main priority.

My last approach in the great call to  “shallow” is using continuous lights. I use Wescott’s TD6 Spiderlites and their studio LED Skylux which has a dimmable control. These are both daylight balanced. These lights work well as they are less intrusive because they do not flash. I also shoot many bursts as I am interacting with my subject and I don’t have to wait for recycle times. I really find using the continuous approach to be quite magical. Why? Because I can sometimes drag my shutter speed really low to allow the natural light in a scene to “burn – in” interest in my portrait.

Stray light from a window can highlight my subject as an accent light, or the light bouncing off walls can also add depth and dimension to my scene. I just simply do a custom white balance by taking a shot of an 18 percent grey card for accurate skin tones. Again, my Tamron VC is the key to shooting these images which I use for the Vibration Compensation and for compression. I can also pull in for tight shots to capture expression and pull back to 70mm allowing the scene to be part of the narrative. When shooting with continuous lights, I will usually shoot at F4. Again, the eyes is what I want to capture. When shooting at F4, once I capture the expressions I am after,  the plane of the face is in focus, and the compression will begin from the ears back. The effect is almost painterly. I sometimes use Rosco Pale Bastard amber gels to add warmth to the highlights. In occasions when I find a subject with captivating eyes.

I will shoot wide open at F2.8 and loose focus on everything else. I always have a round silver reflector on hand to add those very important reflections on the eyes.

At the end of the day what have I done? Figuratively speaking, I have created “Shallow Images”, and only in relation to “depth of field”. I have created images that are story-telling, captivating and alluring. Seeing things from the shallow side can also evolve your photography to new depths.

This article originally appeared in Skip Cohen University Blog:

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Hernan Rodriguez: Celebrity Photo Shoot With Eddie Griffinhttp://www.hernanphotography.com/hernan-rodriguez-celebrity-photo-shoot-with-eddie-griffin/ http://www.hernanphotography.com/hernan-rodriguez-celebrity-photo-shoot-with-eddie-griffin/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 07:39:20 +0000 http://www.hernanphotography.com/?p=2606 When shooting celebrities, even though you may know them or are comfortable with the talent, you still need to make certain you create a good flow, with smooth transitions from set to set. They are most often in a very tight schedule, and keeping your sets pre-lit, helps them just step in and be part of the shoot. Part of this process is always having the proper white balance calibration for each set.

Eddie Griffin, my subject for this shoot, is a funny guy. I’ve been photographing Eddie’s personal work now for the past five years, and every time it’s a hoot. I let him do his own thing, and I just simply sit back and record the session, click by click.

This time around though, was a tricky situation.

When shooting celebrities, even though you may know them or are comfortable with the talent, you still need to make certain you create a good flow, with smooth transitions from set to set. They are most often in a very tight schedule, and keeping your sets pre-lit, helps them just step in and be part of the shoot. Part of this process is always having the proper white balance calibration for each set.

Eddie Griffin, my subject for this shoot, is a funny guy. I’ve been photographing Eddie’s personal work now for the past five years, and every time it’s a hoot. I let him do his own thing, and I just simply sit back and record the session, click by click.

This time around though, was a tricky situation.

In this particular session, I had two sets in mind in which Eddie and I agreed on. One was indoors with a mix of overhead incandescent light, and the other was outdoors on his patio, with a mix of flash and natural light. Often, if I have the time, I like to arrange my setups with the lights pre-metered, also leaving some extra lights nearby for versatility. What I mean by this is that, I’m not fixed on a specific look or lighting approach.

I do setup my lights in place, but allow the flexibility of changing a light for another if it gives me a better mood for the shot. I might go from a beauty dish to a small 20-degree grid for my main light for instance.

This is where my white balance preparation begins. I usually have two options to work with. One is to setup lights, meter, then use my SpyderCHECKR in a shot, filling the entire frame, and finally using a custom white balance. (Refer to your manual for specific instructions on your camera settings.)

For the first scene, I had a large red pool table, with a row of overhead lamps, which were a different color temperature than my flash would be. I also was placing Eddie in front of red-carpeted wall, which while it was interesting and would add energy to the shot, would create a color cast in the images.

Eddie Griffin

When shooting in close proximity to colored walls the light also bounces off surrounding walls and objects. One rule I observe in such situations is, “Angle of incidence equals angle of reflection”. What this means is that if I place a light source at an angle that strikes the colored wall, the reflected light will bounce back into my lens, striking my sensor with the color qualities of that source. In this case it would, of course, be bright red. This also will contaminate skin tones, clothing, etc. This helped determine the type of light source I was to use. Not too big and broad, to keep the reflected light confined and controlled.

I put Eddie about three feet in front of the back wall, and I used a small 16×20 soft box as my main light. It also produced a similar quality of light as the overhead lights, making the portrait more natural. The angle in which I placed this light was very important. The pool table directly in front of Eddie, was also red.

I placed the light to camera left, and I feathered it to come across Eddie’s left shoulder, preventing it from bouncing on the table and back wall. This angle allowed me to control the angle of incidence.

I metered this light at F8. I also place a Rosco warming color filter on the light, to get the same color temperature as the overhead lamps. To get these lamps to register for the shot, I had to slow down the shutter speed to 1/30th of a second, which was my final exposure. F8 @ 1/30th second.

The SpyderCHECKR takes most of the guesswork out of the equation. I’m balancing two light sources, the overhead lamps at around 3,500 kelvin, and flash at around 5,500 kelvin – so without this proper white balance, my session would have uncontrolled color.

Once I neutralize my white balance, I can then add filters for warming or special effects, and be confident about the results. A small white satin umbrella was placed directly behind me, powered down, as a weak fill, metering at F4. I lastly placed a 4×4′ silk scrim by Westcott above and behind Eddie as soft accent light. This added a slight accent on Eddie’s left side. The light source was a flash head with a 20-degree grid, to keep the source of light narrow. I also place a slight red Rosco filter on this light, to keep the accent natural for the scene.

The setup took longer than the actual photo session. We spent just over ten minutes shooting in this scenario, compared to a forty-minute setup.

It was much simpler for our second setup. I retrieved the image of the pre-shot Spyder Checkr card in this scene. The light was a mix of natural light and strobe. I sat Eddie on a tall stool, and placed him in open shade. Not just any open shade. The direction of light was coming from the north, which gave more shape and contour onto my subject.

Since the light was soft, I setup a simple portrait lighting approach i often use. I used the same 3/4 stop diffuser for my main light source, by placing a small white satin umbrella directly behind. My ambient reading for the scene was 1/60th of a second at F4. I simply just powered my main light one stop over my ambient reading to F5.6. This gave me a portrait with natural light qualities, with depth and shape.

These images are currently being used on a billboard on the Las Vegas strip. This would not have been possible without proper metering, lighting controls, or accurate white balance.

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CAMBIA TU PUNTO DE VISTA – (Tamron 70-200)http://www.hernanphotography.com/mexico-gallery/ http://www.hernanphotography.com/mexico-gallery/#comments Mon, 12 May 2014 21:58:33 +0000 http://www.hernanphotography.com/?p=2213

Quiero empezar diciendo que para poder conjuntar un amplió espectro de imagines en una sesión fo- tográfica, la solución está en cambiar el ángulo de visión. Esto lo veremos más adelante.

Recientemente fui invitado por Raul Galaviz de Actitud Comunidad, a impartir una conferencia sobre fotografía en México, y me gustaría compartir algo a lo que muy a menudo nos enfrentamos, eso a lo que yo le llamo “dificultades de la vida real”, que son las situaciones en las cuales un cliente puede pedirte que realices una fotografía específica, y a veces bajo las peores circunstancias.

En estos ejemplos explicaré como he creado una serie de imagines que van desde un retrato hasta una fotografía de moda con el simple hecho de cambiar el ángulo de visión. Los resultados fueron completamente diferentes en cuanto a iluminación y ambiente. Con solo usar un lente, el Tamron 70- 200mm SP VC 2.8, fue suficiente para tener una variedad de distancias focales, y nos brinda diferentes valores de compresión, enfocando o desenfocando los fondos de la imagen.


Esta es la secuencia de eventos. Los problemas, y que hacemos para resolverlos.

Como llegué a mi destino desde California, los únicos artículos con los que viajé fueron un ex- posímetro Sekonic 358L, una luz continua de Westcott, y mi Tamron 70-200 VC.

TOMA I: La locación donde realizamos la sesión fue la entrada del lobby del hotel. Me paro en medio y giro 360 grados para ver lo que me rodea, y que tipo de iluminación con la que me gustaría trabajar sobre el escenario. El piso era de mármol brillante, que serviría para usarlo como reflector de luz de relleno natural. Las paredes eran de un mármol amarillo, lo cual pensé que también podría servir como separación, pues la modelo tenía el pelo oscuro. Mi primera opción fue tirar desde la entrada del lobby con el sol a mis espaldas, arriba, a mi lado derecho había un balcón que tapaba el sol.




Coloqué a la modelo en una sombra abierta, pero no cualquier sombra abierta, Me gusta encontrar el punto ideal donde la dirección de la luz sólo se corta a la sombra, esto le da forma a la modelo con esta calidad de luz. La medición de la luz colocando a la modelo en la sombra me dio como resultado 1/30 a F2.8. Eso no me sirve si no tengo un tripie, y además, el F2.8 sólo me sería útil si la modelo mirara al frente, colocarla en posición tres cuartos haría que un ojo se desenfocara debido a la poca profundidad de campo, la calidad de la luz incluso era muy plana. Para cambiar mi ángulo, me colo- qué en donde la modelo estaba parada y noté una luz brillante en el piso, pensé que me serviría como reflector en el rostro de la modelo, decidí usar este recurso como luz principal, simplemente fue el reflejo del sol en el suelo y era una luz cálida, coloqué a la modelo en una posición en la que la luz que venía de abajo iluminara su rostro. Esta luz fue dos pasos más brillante que la exposición original, la medición fue 1/60 a F3.5. La luz de relleno fue la entrada del lobby detrás de mi, medida a F2.8, pude recrear un escenario de estudio con luz natural, solo expandiendo mi visión, buscando estos recursos de luz y reflejos que añaden profundidad y forma a mis retratos.


COMPRESIÓN DE LENTE: Usar una apertura de 3.5 me permitió mantener la mayor parte del fondo fuera de foco. Esto previene que haya elementos que distraigan y se sobrepongan a la modelo: Util- ice mi lente Tamron a 200mm para comprimir los planos de enfoque en la imagen final. Tirando a la máxima compresión con una apertura artificial, se pueden lograr hermosos retratos que parecen pin- turas.

Un tripie puede ser de ayuda en este tipo de escenarios para mantener el enfoque en los ojos.





NOTA: La imagen puede ser vista en el link, video Behind the Scenes 

TOMA II: En la escena dos, básicamente intercambié la posición con mi modelo. Esto me dio nuevas opciones para trabajar, un nuevo fondo y una iluminación distinta. Comencé con una exponiendo entre 160 a 250 de velocidad para el fondo, esencialmente para que la luz de día diera una impresión de noche, para ajustar mi velocidad dentro del lobby que me indicaba de 1/60 simplemente agregué un flash para balancear con la exposición con el exterior, use como luz principal un flash con una red de 20 grados medida a F8, y use un Rapid Softbox de Westcott como luz de relleno medida a F4.




NOTA: La velocidad de disparo controla la luz ambiente y el diafragma la exposición.



TOMA III: Esta situación fue la más práctica de todas. Caminando dentro del área, primero noté que las lámparas del lugar iluminaban el cuarto con una luz suave, la luz era muy débil para ser mi luz principal pero me serviría como luz de relleno. La situación fue muy similar a la primer toma, prede- terminé fotografiar con una apertura F8 para alcanzar mayor resolución; busqué que mi relleno dos pasos menos que mi luz principal. Simplemente realice una medida incidental teniendo como priori- dad la apertura y me dio como resultado 1/30 de velocidad. Ahora, añadí un pequeño octabox reg- istrado a F8, finalmente coloqué un reflector plateado debajo de la modelo para mantener algunas sombras abiertas mientras añadía brillo a los ojos. La distancia focal varió de 105 a 200 mm.

scene5a scene5b


TOMA IV: La cuarta toma fue el bar del hotel, el lugar más obvio para colocar a la modelo era frente a un espejo lleno de figuras geométricas con patrones azules y negros, la única preocupación era controlar el reflejo del flash en el espejo.

NOTA: Una de las más importantes reglas en fotografía es “El ángulo de incidencia es igual al ángulo de reflexión”. En otras palabras, si la luz incide sobre un objeto en un ángulo A, ésta se reflejará en la dirección opuesta también en el mismo ángulo .

Mi solución fue usar una luz lejana a la izquierda para crear un estilo de iluminación muy conocido como “luz dividida”. Este tipo de iluminación crea sombras muy profundas, que llegan a ser un ele- mento gráfico en el retrato final, incluso se complementan con los patrones del fondo.

Coloqué un flash a media potencia del lado izquierdo de la cámara con un filtro Amarillo. Medí esta luz a F8 e hice el balance de blancos tomando una fotografía a una tarjeta blanca, la cámara haría los cálculos para corregir la luz amarilla añadiendo el color opuesto, el azul.

¿Cuáles son los resultados? Los colores de la piel balanceados con una brillante luz azul en el fondo.



TOMA V: Para la siguiente toma busqué una locación en exterior para demostrar la versatilidad del Tamron 70-200. Este es mi principal lente para la fotografía de moda. La modelo usó un vestido

plateado y nos dirigimos a la azotea. La luz del sol se mantenía con toda su fuerza, no teníamos otras opciones mas que tirar con una luz dura directa. Coloqué a mi modelo en una repisa con el sol a su espalda, su rostro fue cubierto completamente por una sombra, fueron dos procesos de ilumi- nación, primeramente coloqué un reflector blanco arriba que cubriera a la modelo del sol, decidí sacar ventaja de la luz fuerte redireccionando la luz solar a su rostro. Coloqué un reflector plateado frente a ella para crear mi luz principal y reboté la luz hacia la modelo desde varios ángulos para crear una serie de imagines. Bloqueando la luz de arriba me permitió incrementar la apertura del di- afragma, esto dio como resultado un cielo sobreexpuesto, pasé mis imágenes a blanco y negro para añadir drama.

scene4 scene4b

EXPOSICIÓN FINAL: 1/400 F5.6 – ISO 100.

CAMBIANDO PERSPECTIVAS: Una variación de esta sesión fue colocar a la modelo recostada en el suelo que tenía una extraordinaria textura de piedra. Cambié la posición de mi modelo para tener su rostro en el sol y colocar dos difusores sobre ella, esto me dio como resultado una luz suave que la cubría de pies a cabeza, la usé como luz de relleno, agregué una luz rebotada en su rostro usando un pequeño reflector dorado. Esencialmente se creó un estudio en exterior usando la luz del sol y dos reflectores. Esta serie de fotografías fueron tomadas con una distancia focal de 70mm.


EXPOSICIÓN FINAL: 1/100 F5.6 – ISO 100.

PALABRAS FINALES: Lo que me llevo de esta experiencia es que uno no deja de aprender a cualquier nivel, he sido bendecido con muchos logros, así como atributos técnicos como fotógrafo profesional, pero siempre hay una oportunidad de mejora, visualmente hablando. Viajar a un país ve- cino sin lo que normalmente acostumbro llevar, me forzó a evaluar profundamente lo que se encon- traba alrededor en el lugar en el que iba a trabajar, por no hablar de que cree hermosas imágenes que iban a ser colocadas como pancartas en el recinto.

Con un solo lente se hizo todo, con la sensibilidad de una nueva perspectiva. GRACIAS TAMRON,







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Westcott Zepplinhttp://www.hernanphotography.com/tamron-image-master/ http://www.hernanphotography.com/tamron-image-master/#comments Sun, 11 May 2014 00:52:38 +0000 http://www.hernanphotography.com/?p=2073 When I saw the Zepplin showcased at this year’s WPPI Convention, my creative juices began brewing on what project I could create to give this bad-boy a run. As I unpacked my Zepplin, just by looking at the silver inner baffle and the option of multiple scrim diffusers, I could envision the quality of light I might get. In my personal work and for my style of lighting, I prefer to produce images with more pop (specularity) and a higher contrast ratio. This was going to work just fine. I gathered my team for a creative day at the studio, which I often recommend to any photographer. It keeps your skills up to par, plus I’d rather learn in practice than on the field. I’ve been wanting to do a photo shoot merging beauty and mystique, so we decided to have this as our base theme. I met with my makeup artist on the looks I envisioned and she also provided some of the wardrobe ideas. Through the years, my team has been a huge contributor to the success of the images we produce. Creative people are great to bounce ideas off of, taking an image from a great shot to a brilliant shot. Once we had the concept, makeup, and attire handled, it was up to me to determine the fashion in which I would use the Zepplin.



The most predictable approach in using a parabolic softbox of this nature, is to place it in a forward fashion somewhere in front of my subject. Because of the deep construction of this parabolic softbox, I placed my subject encased by the Zepplin, which was set a foot behind her extended by a Westcott Boom Arm. I kept the 1/2 stop inner diffusion panel in place to soften the light slightly while still maintaining the specularity quality. In some instances, I also used the 1/2 stop outer diffusion pulled halfway back, to soften the light falloff. This also created a nice transition on the black fabric.




Positioning your light in this fashion serves multi-purposes. Firstly, we use it as our main light, and secondly as our hair light. The quality as a hair light is very soft, with a wrap around quality that falls off onto shoulders, serving as an accent light as well. Since the light is set above the subject, it sets the eyes into shadow. To solve this, I placed a silver Scrim Jim directly in front of subject, opposite the Zeppllin as fill. I used silver to maintain the same quality of light as the main light. The reflector was tested from a foot in front to three in front. This allowed me different looks, with the ability to play with various looks.


Zepplin by Hernan Rodriguez


The main light was set on a Strobe Flash at 3/4 power, approximately 400 watts. This metered at F16. The Scrim Jim bounced light back to my subject which metered between F8 and F11. Another option I experimented with, was using another Strobe Flash with a 10 degree grid, and directed to subject’s face as fill. This light was metered at F5.6. I placed my subject in front of a fireplaces, surrounded by candles on the floor. I placed a large 92×92 Scrim JIm equipped with a black net. This I use often to catch light, while also softening the textures and focus behind my subjects. I Placed a small flash inside the fireplace with an amber Rosco filter, and powered the light between F8-F11. All the lights facing my subject were used with a Rosco CalColor Cinegel #4330 (Cyan). This promoted the mystical effect on the subject and scene. The final exposure for most of the images, were shot at 1/30th second @ F16. ISO 100. The slow shutter speed was used to capture the candles and movement in the fabric.








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CELEBRITY PHOTOGRAPHY TO TICKLE YOUR FUNNY BONE… by Jennifer Gidmanhttp://www.hernanphotography.com/climb-your-mountain/ http://www.hernanphotography.com/climb-your-mountain/#comments Tue, 23 Jul 2013 08:51:19 +0000 http://demo.qodeinteractive.com/stardust/?p=12 H

ernan Rodriguez uses the Tamron SP 17-50mm VC lens for a photo session with comedian Eddie Griffin.

It’s not every day you get to laugh your way through an entire photo shoot – but when performer Eddie Griffin is your subject, expect some comic relief in front of your lens. Griffin, best known for his starring role in the TV show Malcolm and Eddie, and the movie Undercover Brother, recently debuted a new DVD comedy special, You Can Tell ‘Em I Said It, and needed fresh promotional images. Photographer Hernan Rodriguez was selected to carry out the photo shoot.


One of the lenses that Rodriguez used for his session with Griffin (in addition to the Tamron SP 90mm and the SP 70-200mm lenses) was the Tamron SP 17-50mm F/2.8 VC lens. The 17-50, which produces a picture angle range that approximates a 26-78mm on a APS-C size sensor DSLR, also features a fast maximum f/2.8 aperture that allows photographers to blur out the background and focus solely on the subject during portrait sessions. “This is a great lens that lets you get a closer context and a wider shot for environmental portraits, “says Rodriguez. “It allows you to do more storytelling.


Prepping for a Star


To set up for a shoot like this, Rodriguez advises, you’ll be working mainly with the personality’s representation. “Your client for the job isn’t the talent per se, but rather the agent, manager, or publicist,” he explains. “They’re almost like the art director: They determine the approach and approve all of the details.”


Nothing was left to chance for this commission, from the carefully selected wardrobe Griffin would wear during the session to the studio setup and general shooting regimen. “The stylists pulled from high-end clothing companies such as Prada and Calvin Klein — it was our job to make sure he dressed to fit the look we were after,” Rodriguez says. “Plus, I storyboard all of my concepts way ahead of time. You only get a few opportunities like this to shoot celebrities — you don’t want to be winging it on the day of the shoot.”



Although most people might think that performers are naturals in front of a photographer’s lens – after all, they spend most of their workdays in front of TV or film cameras – when they’re out of character or without a script, it takes a little finessing to relax them for your shoot, just as it would with any other subject. “People are people, whether you’re shooting a model, an ordinary person, or a celebrity,” says Rodriguez. “The common denominator: Everyone’s a little apprehensive about that initial shot.”


This is where your preshoot research comes into play — and can determine how the rest of the shoot goes. “You have to break the ice,” says Rodriguez. “The personality is the key to the whole thing — if you can get the person comfortable, you’ll have a great shoot. You have to do your research, know what projects they’re involved with and what their future ventures are, and find common ground so you can have a conversation. If you’ve done your homework, they’ll trust you.”

Eddie Griffin 2


Rodriguez also gained Griffin’s trust by opening up the set to people whole made Griffin comfortable. “Eddie’s grandpa, who’s 100 years old came to the shoot,” he explains. “He was Richard Pryor’s manager for ages, so he knows his comedy. He was a lot of fun as well. Some photographers might feel like it’s their set and they’re the director — they don’t want any outside ‘distractions.’ But I’m more laid-back: If Grandpa was there and Eddie felt at ease with him, I was going to use that to my advantage.”


Eddie Comedy


Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative

When you’re shooting celebrities, it’s imperative to make sure you’re showing them in the best light: The photos you take are representing their personal brand. “It’s your job as the photographer to make them look good,” says Rodriguez. “You want to deemphasize any unflattering features and shoot at angles that photograph their best side — and you can’t be learning what their best look is as you’re doing the shoot. This should be done when you’re doing your initial research: Go online, look at other photo shoots and TV shows they’ve been on, for example, and check out how they act and how they look. Study them and determine how you’re going to do your own shoot.”


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With the varying lighting scenarios Rodriguez implemented to photograph Griffin in a few different “scenes,” he needed a lens that would help him control camera shake in lower-light situations. The 17-50’s Vibration Compensation (VC) technology, which allows photographers to shoot as many as four shutter speeds slower than usual while handholding the camera, enabled Rodriguez to capture the appropriate mood in a variety of settings — even those with ambient light and a fog machine.


“We mainly used three lighting setups,” explains Rodriguez. “The background we picked depended on the look we were going for.” For example, Rodriguez featured a laughing, relaxed Griffin in a vibrant red sweater against a gray seamless backdrop for straight-up, clean photography that Griffin could use for any type of commercial use, such as editorial work or head shots. For a more classic look that could be used on a CD or DVD cover, Griffin donned a royal-blue jacket to contrast with the set’s pale-yellow background.

Eddie Griffin 5


It was the shoot’s “lounge” look, however, where Rodriguez was able to truly portray the lifestyle of a world-class comedian. “To get that upscale lounge feel, we used a purple couch against a number of backgrounds, including a velvet one,” explains Rodriguez. “I also used a collection of colored gels in combination with a fog machine to complete the effect.” (For complete lighting setups for Griffin’s different “scenes,” please see Rodriguez’s personal take on the shoot on the Tamron “Angle of View” blog).


Eddie Griffin III


What ultimately helped turn this celebrity shoot into a success was Griffin’s naturally easygoing nature and ability to keep Rodriguez and his crew laughing. “Every celebrity, or person for that matter, is different — and your shoot is always dictated by the personality of the person you’re shooting,” says Rodriguez. “In Eddie’s case, I didn’t have to pose him at all, maybe just refine a head turn here or there. We simply carried on a conversation while I was shooting and had a blast.”



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